Making PCN Top Priority; THE ADAS Syngenta Potato Conference Provided Potato Growers and Agronomists with the Latest Updates on Key Economic and Agronomic Issues Facing the Industry. RICHARD OSBORNE Reports Presentations by Some of the United Kingdom's Leading Potato Experts

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), November 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Making PCN Top Priority; THE ADAS Syngenta Potato Conference Provided Potato Growers and Agronomists with the Latest Updates on Key Economic and Agronomic Issues Facing the Industry. RICHARD OSBORNE Reports Presentations by Some of the United Kingdom's Leading Potato Experts


Byline: RICHARD OSBORNE

POTATO CYST Nematodes (PCNs) are the number one pest affected United Kingdom potato crops, according to leading industry experts.

Speaking at the ADAS Syngenta potato conferece, held in Peterborough, ADAS (Agricultural Development and Advisory Service) entomologist, Dr Bill Parker, said growers must treat PCN as the number one priority.

More than 65 per cent of UK potato growing land is already affected by at least low levels of PCN, according to Dr David Trudgill, of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI). But he warns that, by the time soil sampling detects even the lowest numbers of the past, populations are at the point of exponential growth that could render land unviable for potato production within two or three rotations.

PCN EPIDEMIC IN PROGRESS: Dr Trudgill recommends growers must now change their soil sampling strategy - taking the first samples soon after lifting the potato crop. "If you go back to the field's you have recently harvested, there's a much better chance of picking up any low PCN populations.

"If you wait until immediately prior to planting when the crop next comes around in the rotation, the natural decline rate may take PCN populations below the limit of detection by soil sampling. Some will still be there, however, and waiting to multiply very rapidly when the new crop is planted,'' he said.

"Once PCN is in the field, then a combination of growing resistant varieties and granular nematicides is necessary to keep the numberd at manageable levels. Early control at the first sign of PCN is essential,'' he advised. "Use the full recommended rate of nematicide and don't be tempted to cut corners. If you can achieve 95 per cent of suppression, it will keep PCN in control; too often growers aren't applying accurately or evenly, and control rate slips to 80 per cent or less - which cannot be sustained.''

Using a computer-based PCN modeling programme, developed by SCRI, Dr Trudgill calculates that, using nematicides, it may be possible to grow a PCN resistant variety once, followed by one or two cycles of a less resistant variety, without numbers increasing too far, depending on the soil type and rotation length. "Careful tracking of populations, preferably using GPS and soil sampling, is essential to develop the right strategy for each field,'' he said.

INTEGRATED CROP MANAGEMENT SOLUTIONS: Syngenta farm systems manager, Grace O'Dwyer, believes that Integrated Crop Management (ICM) was the most effective route to long-term PCN control, as well as fulfilling potato industry demands for improved quality and traceability - at an affordable cost.

Miss O'Dwyer highlighted that PCN control adopts many of the basic principles of ICM:

l Prevention. Keep valuable clean land free of nematodes with good hygiene - use clean seed stock, wash equipment between fields and avoid spreading infected soil from grading lines back on to potato fields. Increase the crop rotation to minimise PCN build-up and grow resistant or tolerant varieties to minimise the impact. New varieties may offer better resistance to the increasing Globodera pallida PCN populations.

l Observation. Monitor PCN populations with effective soil sampling and track the natural decline of PCN - GPS is a valuable aid to soil sampling. Identify which species of PCN is present, and in what proportion, to select the most appropriate nematicide - in most instances, G. pallida is now the dominant species. In the near future, remote sensing, with aerial or satellite infra-red photography, could be available to identify PCN hot spots.

l Intervention. Research on PCN thresholds clearly indicates early intervention with granular nematicides is the best approach to gaining control. Where populations are already high, a combination of fumigation and nematicide will be required, if it can be economically justified. Where a nematicide is required, Nemathorin has a low rate of active ingredient, a good environmental profile and is effective at low rates of concentration to provide season- long control. …

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Making PCN Top Priority; THE ADAS Syngenta Potato Conference Provided Potato Growers and Agronomists with the Latest Updates on Key Economic and Agronomic Issues Facing the Industry. RICHARD OSBORNE Reports Presentations by Some of the United Kingdom's Leading Potato Experts
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